El Shovelle

Article By: Milwaukee Mike

Photos By: Curt Lout

Originally Published In The July 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Feature 5 July 13 Kerri

In the most southeast corner of South Dakota lies the typical Main Street town of Jefferson, and in this town there was a vacant Sinclair service station. From the ashes of a time that is now long gone, rises the phoenix of the Chop Shop. The man behind the resurrection of this forgotten icon, and the gorgeous Shovelhead shown on these pages, is known as Harley Van Kirk. Harley has spent his whole life under the influence of any type of machine that could fuel his obsession for moving fast across earth and water. As a typical Midwest kid, he started life on the dirt, first in motocross and then some dirt track, but he also enjoyed 3 and 4 wheelers and racing jet skis as well. Of course if you are going to push these machines to the limit, then you are going to have to learn to fix them to finish races. It was this basic training that gave Harley the tools to expand his knowledge and learn how to run machine centers a n d learn paint and body work in addition to the aforementioned engine and transmission skills he already had. His first build, nine years ago, was a Triumph chopper that caught the eye of many folks in his neighborhood. That build led to a job at a well known European repair and restoration shop where a lot of hands-on skills were gained. This job gave him the confidence to go out on his own, and The Chop Shop was born. Harley got a little extra leg up in that endeavor by opening the shop 5 doors from the legendary Moose of the EFMC, who would become his mentor. He is credited in being the first of the Cali guys to build a real long bike back in the ‘60s. This is true living history right in your backyard people. If all the young guys don’t pay attention they will miss the chance to meet and even see that those guys are still out there living the same life they started all those years ago. Okay, enough of the soapbox; back to El Shovelle.

Harley started this bike after he was invited to participate in the 2011 AMD World Championships in Sturgis. Being that most of those bikes push the limits, he was given a bit of free reign and got the opportunity to build a bike that had been burning a hole in his brain for 9 years: a big boy dirt bike with a big inch Shovel motor. I think the photos will show that he hit the mark spot on! This bike started with a chromemoly chassis, built in-house of course, and had the benefit of weighing damn near nothing! The frame has a gooseneck that moved the neck down 2” and 4” out. Originally this bike was to have a generator Shovel, but that was changed 3 weeks before the show for the power of a 93” S & S Shovelhead. This motor was disassembled and then blacked out with Jaguar hi-temp engine paint, and topped off with brass plated fasteners and rocker nuts. The transmission is a Baker 6 in a 4, ordered in powder black to match the engine. A Baxter X-Kicker brings life to the kick-only setup. After many hours of tech help from S&S, the ignition and power is brought from a Dyna S system and stored in a very small Ballistic 4 cell battery cleanly tucked away. The two halves of this powertrain are tied together with an Evil Engineering Board Tracker belt drive system to top off the beautiful black heart of this beast.

Feature 5b July 13 Kerri

The frontend of this bike started life as a stock Sportster. The legs and trees were shaved and polished at The Chop Shop, and 2” under length tubes (also cut down in-house with some help from Forking by Frank) replaced the stock ones. A Ride Wright 21” 60 spoke wheel and custom spool was chosen for the front. Harely went with a set of Biltwell risers and Renthal 7/8” bars. To top it o f f , he machined a crossbar and used some Moose Bark Busters as another nod to the motocross aspect of this build. Also incorporated in the look of this frontend are the Scott grips and fork gaiters. The extra over-thetop piece is the 1/4 turn Sun Line controls which Harley told me gets the bike sideways in a hurry! The rear wheel is also a Ride Wright 60 spoke, but is an 18” that was custom made as a half spool for the HHI sproter that drives it. The tires are Pirelli AT Scorpion knobbies to really bring home that MX look. All the brakes are controlled by Goodrich stainless lines and are all hidden-ish. Harley told me one of the things he likes to find on bikes are the anal little details, so all the safety wires have the same amount of twists going the same direction. Time was a factor, but this was one detail that was not going to be overlooked. The sheet metal looks minimal, but that takes huge amounts of work to make it look that way. The tank, which started as a stock late model Sporty, had 3/8” cut out of the middle and the tunnel was deepened on the front half. This was done so it would sit correctly on the frame. He also redid the mounts to match the theme of the motor with the brass fasteners. The filler was changed and replaced by a Pro-Line which is common on motocross bikes. The hardest part of this was the cap, which had a very tight pitch and took four tries to get right. The fuel shutoff is also a one-off piece that Harley made in-house. The rear fender started as a Twisted Choppers’ blank that he used just about half of, but sometimes less is more.

When it came time for paint, that job was given to his friend “Diamond” Dave Miller. He shot the PPG Gloss Black and did the gold offset stripe work as a nod to the old British cars he had so much experience with earlier in life. The name, “El Shovelle,” came naturally as some of Harley’s early days were spent learning everything he could from Moose working in his shop. For those who don’t know, Moose is a member of the El Foresteros MC so it is with great honor and inspiration that the “El” was used in the name. Harley would like to say a big thanks to his wife Jen and his two daughters for putting up with not being around much during that stressful month. He also couldn’t forget Dave Miller for the paint, Turbo for helping with the assembly, and Corkscrew for everything. Also a final thanks to Ameer and Land Shark that were always willing to lend a helping hand, all the EFs for their constant support and guidance as well as their inspiration, and especially Moose for just being Moose. For those who have never been to Jefferson, I highly suggest a visit even if it’s just to breeze through. The shop is quite unique and worth a quick (or long) visit, particularly if you own a pre 1980 American twin, and tell Harley Cycle Source sent ya!

Feature 5c July 13 Kerri

El Shovelle Tech Sheet

Owner: The Chop Shop

City: Jefferson, SD

Fabrication By: The Chop Shop / Harley Van Kirk

Year: 2011


Value: A Lot

Time: 1 Month


Year: 2011

Model: Alternator/Generator

Builder: S&S

Ignition: Dyna S

Displacement: 93”

Pistons: S&S

Heads: S&S

Cam(s): S&S

Carb: S&S Super E

Air Cleaner: Velocity Stack


Primary: Evil Engineering Board Tracker


Year: 2011

Make: Baker 6 in a 4

Shifting: Foot


Year: 2011

Make: The Chop Shop – Goose Neck Rigid

Rake: 34 Degree

Stretch: 2” Up – 4” Out


Type: Hydraulic Narrow Glide

Builder: H-D / Shaved By Chop Shop

Extension: 2”

Triple Trees: Shaved Narrow Glide


Front Wheel: Ride Wright Spoke Spool

Size: 21”

Tire: Pirelli Scorpion AT

Brakes: Nope

Rear Wheel: Ride Wright Spoke

Size: 18”

Tire: Pirelli Scorpion AT

Brakes: HHI Sprotor


Painter: Diamond Dave Miller

Type: PPG

Color: Black and Gold

Graphics: Craig Smith

Chromining: Just Brass


Bars: Renthal MX – Chop Shop Cross Bar

Risers: Biltwell

Hand Controls: Sunline MX w/ 1/4 Turn Throttle

Gas Tank(s): Modified Sporty

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Twisted Choppers Blank Cut-Down

Seat: Simple and Plain

Foot Controls: Stampede

Oil Tank: Chop Shop – Bulletproof w/ Battery Box

Speedo: Who Needs One

Taillight: Crime Scene Rapide

Headlight: Crime Scene Rapide

Photographer: Curt Lout

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *